Archive for November, 2011

Arms & Armor Reference Information for Writing a Fantasy Novel – Part I

Posted in Writing with tags on November 26, 2011 by Dawn Ross

If you are writing a fantasy novel, you need to know about the armor they wore, the weapons they used, and the type of warfare they engaged in. As I was writing a fantasy novel, I did a lot of research. Here is some of the basic information I put together:

*Breast plate & back plate
*Crest – decor helmet top – can be of metal or plume
*Guantlets – gloves
*Greave – shin guard
*Hauberk – chain mail worn like a tunic
*Helmet – see below
*Hood of mail – chain mail head and shoulder-piece, almost always worn under a metal helmet
*Leather jerkin – sleeveless tunic
*Padded hauberk – padded armor of cloth
*Surcoat – sleeveless tunic worn over armor
*Tabard – sleeveless over-garment for armor, close-fitting, buttoned or laced in front, long close-fitting sleeves, padded
*Vambrace – metal or leather armor the lower arm

*Bascinet – close-fitting helmet which covered the entire head and face, popular in the 1300 and early 1400s
*Bascinet styles – with dull-pointed or sharp-pointed apex, with gorget, egg-shaped
*Gorget – neck piece of a helmet
*Hat-like helmet with rounded top and wide bring which hung low over the eyes
*Occularium – a cut-out area of a helmet for the eyes
*Plumed helmet with horse tail, globular head-shape, with visor or occularium, with a neck guard at the back of the head
*Plumed helmet rounded on top and with straight sides, an arch opening for the face
*Plumed helmet as above but with an added nasal guard
*Plumed helmet as above but with a t-shaped opening for the eyes, nose, and mouth
*Pot helm – flat topped and cylindrical, has an arched opening for the face and an occularium of iron crosspieces
*Salade – Spanish helmet that is rounded on top and swells outward to the back of the neck, a place is fasted to the upper part of the breast plate to cover the bottom half of the face and carried evenly to the back of the neck, a visor or occularium protected the eyes
*Salade as above but with a metal crest on the top
*Salade as above but with a more extreme tail outward to the back of the neck
*Skullcap – composed of two pieces of iron riveted together
*Visor – moving piece of a helmet which covers the eyes

As you can see, this information is a bit generic. There are more pieces to armor but you may not necessarily want to get over descriptive since it could bore your readers with the educational lesson or annoy the readers who already know what a suit of armor entails.

Notice with the helmet information that there are several styles of the same type of helmet. Not all styles have a specific name. And if they do, your reader may not necessarily know a certain style when you write about it unless you describe it. Why name it if you are just doing to describe it anyway? The reader is more concerned with a brief description than a fancy name.

I have a lot more arms & armor reference information to share for writing a fantasy novel. See you again next Saturday for Part II. You can also check out reference books such as “European Arms & Armor” by Charles Henry Ashdown or “Knight” from DK Eyewitness Books.

Outlining Your Novel with Index Cards

Posted in Writing with tags , on November 19, 2011 by Dawn Ross


Outlining Your Novel

Do you have an idea for a novel but aren’t sure where to start? Using index cards to outline your novel is a great first step. Not only will it help you establish your novel’s story, it can also motivate you to start writing and get those creative juices flowing.

When I get an idea for a novel, I spend many hours imagining it and jotting down ideas. But with the day to day distractions, everything comes in all in a jumble. My thoughts aren’t linear. One moment I might think about a hero’s conflict with an enemy and the next moment I am thinking about the hero’s love interest. And sometimes mundane thoughts creep in such as what I am going to cook for dinner tonight.

In order to organize my crazy thoughts, I write down my ideas on index cards. If I have a particular scene in mind that I want to get a good outline of, I also keep a notebook out and reference it on an index card. For example, let’s say I have a pretty good idea of how a particular scene with the hero and the antagonist is going to go – from setting to dialog to action. Obviously, a small index card is not really going to capture all the information I want to remember for that particular scene. So, I write it all out in my designated story notebook and number it for reference. Then I describe it briefly on an index card and reference the number in my notebook.

Once I have several index cards, I start organizing my novel to flow from beginning to end. I probably don’t have too much content yet, but index cards will tell me where there are gaps that need filled. I know many of my key scenes at this point and with index cards it will be easier to think about the smaller scenes which will lead to the bigger ones. I can then add more index cards to fill in those gaps.

If I decide later that I want a particular scene to be closer to the beginning of the novel rather than the middle, index cards will make it much easier to move around. If I decide I don’t like a particular scene, I can take the index card out without disrupting the story’s flow. Adding scenes is also easier with index cards.

Outlining your novel on index cards can also help you if your creative flow gets interrupted. If life gets in the way and you have to put your novel aside for a time, at least you will have everything you have gotten together so far organized in index cards and in your story notebook.

Outlining your novel doesn’t have to be a difficult chore. Index cards are a great way to organize your chaotic thoughts and to motivate you to finally start writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Give it a try. I couldn’t have written my fantasy novels without them.

Using HTML Meta Tags for Your Novel’s Website

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , on November 12, 2011 by Dawn Ross

Remember the post in September about finding your novel online with keyword phrases? If you want people to find your novel online, you have to have keyword phrases in your novel’s website. But equally important are meta tags.

Like keyword phrases, meta tags help search engines such as Google find your website. In order to set up your meta tags, you will first need to decide on your keyword phrases and build your website content as described in our blog post, “Find Your Novel Online with Keyword Phrases“. Once you know you keywords and have your website content, deciding on your meta tags is easy.

Since you have already decided on your keywords, you now have the meta tag for “keywords”. Now you will need to write a title and a meta description. Your title is the first sentence at the top of your website and should act as an introduction. Your title should be about six to ten words long and should contain one or more of your keyword phrases.

For example, if my keyword phrases include the phrases new fantasy author, dawn ross, and fantasy novel, then I could write the following title – “New Fantasy Author Dawn Ross Introduces her First Fantasy Novel.”

You may have heard that your website needs a meta title. However, if you have a title, you won’t need a meta title. So the next thing you will need is a meta description. A meta description is a paragraph of about 150-170 characters that describes your site. Your meta description will have a lot more keyword phrases than your title. And this description does not actually appear on your website like the title does.

*Please note that you will need different keyword phrases, titles, and meta descriptions for each page of your website. So if you have a home page, then a page for one of your books, then a page about you, they should all have different meta and title information.

Once you have decided on your title and meta information, you will need to put this information within the coding of your website. Some web-builders provide spaces for keyword phrases and meta description. If they do, then you don’t have to know the HTML code for adding them. Simply fill in the blanks.

But if your web-builder doesn’t have a space for these things, then you will have to add your own HTML. The HTML meta information goes in between your <head> </head> tags. If you are using a web-builder, then the site probably already has <head> </head> tags. If your web builder asks you to put in a title before you put in your content, it probably also has your <title> </title> tags. If that is the case, then all you need to add is your meta keywords and meta description.

If you are building your website through a web-builder, there should be a button or tab for HTML. Your HTML for meta information should look like this:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”add all your keyword phrases here with a comma in between each keyword phrase”>

<meta name=”description” content=”this is your meta description paragraph as described above”>

If you are not using a web-builder, then your HTML should look like this:


<title>put your title here</title>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”add all your keyword phrases here with a comma in between each keyword phrase”>

<meta name=”description” content=”this is your meta description paragraph as described above”>


Your title will appear on your website but your keywords and description will not. Feel free, however, to use your description in the web content of your website. You can re-word it a bit so that it is not exact but be sure you use your keyword phrases.

If you have more questions about how to add meta tags to your site, Google “meta tags” or “html meta tags” to find other sites who provide this information. I, admittedly, am an amateur when it comes to web building so I can only tell you a little bit about meta tags.